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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Bruins’

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Bonanza

In Hockey on April 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

5281948Oh hey there, playoff hockey. Welcome back. Please, come in. Can I take your coat? Would you like a beer or are you more of a wine fan? Excellent, now please stay forever.

That’s right, we get playoff hockey back and I’m ready to actually do some writing for you loyal readers along with the binge drinking that comes with it. But as usual, work and video games got in the way of doing detailed breakdowns so I’m cramming everything into one post. I have avoided any preview material on the internet, so no one can alter my thoughts.

This is the part where I’m supposed to insert something funny before we get going, but I got nothing. I’m tired and the games are on, so let’s get this over with.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The fun and loveable Blue Jackets have a chance because Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the Pittsburgh net during the playoffs and damn it, it will make for an entertaining series at the very least. But too much Sidney Crosby and not enough support for Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky means the Pens move on. Don’t worry, their fans will still find plenty to complain about. Penguins in six.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I have bounced back and forth on this series several times. Henrik Lundqvist vs. Steve Mason feels like it should be enough for me pick the Rangers alone, but I can’t help myself. Claude Giroux has been nuts after the team got off to a terrible start and he carries it over to the playoffs. Flyers in seven.

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings
If any team in the East might give the Bruins a scare in the opening round, Detroit is the one that could do just that. This is great for the game because it throws the Red Wings into a series with someone that they could develop an intense rivalry with. It should be deja vu for the Bruins as far as round one goes this year, but the result will be the same. Boston is too good. Bruins in seven.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Everyone is sleeping on this series but I think it will be an entertaining slugfest featuring the game’s best goal scorer and Canada’s only hope. Early advantage goes to Montreal as they boast one of the best goalies in the world while the Bolts’ MVP (Ben Bishop) is out for at least game one. That’s enough for me to take the Habs. Montreal in six.

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Everyone in hockey has been waiting for the Avs to come crashing back to Earth based on their unsustainable fancy stats numbers and a goalie playing out of his mind. They’ll play former division foe Minnesota who would be primed for an upset if there wasn’t a giant question mark in the net. Avalanche in six.

St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Norris Division, we have missed thee. This series won’t be a throwback to the chaos that ensued during the Black and Blue Division’s heyday, but it’s going to be a war. St. Louis had the President’s Trophy in their sights before crapping the bed late in the year, giving us the matchup we all wanted one round early. St. Louis has been bad in every aspect of the game as of late and they’re going to need to get up for the Hawks before it’s too late. Chicago is too deep and the Blues have too many questions in net and on offense. Blackhawks in six.
Ed. Note: It was REALLY difficult to not rip on the Blues during that. Don’t worry, I’ll do plenty of that on Twitter.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Fire wagon hockey will be present in every single game of this series as both teams love to get up and down the ice. Dallas has been a blast to watch and they have the edge in net with Kari Lehtonen over, well, whoever the hell the Ducks decide to play in net. Both teams have a superstar duo and plenty of secondary scoring. But the Ducks have Cam Fowler. That’s enough for me to make my pick. Stars in six. #CamSucks

Want to read an actual preview of the series? Check out our buddy Pierre Canard’s in-depth preview.

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
My preview for this series is that I drink a lot and wind up in the fetal position because Antti Niemi can’t keep the puck out of the net. Yeah, I’m not going into much detail. Let’s just say I’m not optimistic and I don’t wanna talk about it and JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. Shit. Kings in six.

That’s it. If you want something more in-depth, I’m sure you can find about 5,283 articles on each series. Want more of an in-depth answer from me on the series in the West? Follow me on Twitter and I’ll be sure to answer. Also, follow along for the retweets, especially if you don’t like the Blues.

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Because I’m a Very Busy and Lazy Person

In Hockey on October 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm

AbeSooo yeah. I didn’t exactly meet the opening bell when it came to getting my season previews done. Work and life get in the way, so deal with it.

But I am not about to deny my loyal reader(s) the remainder of these previews. Here they are in fast forward, unchanged from the start of the season, beginning where I left off.

Metropolitan Division

Washington Capitals – 3rd Place
Lots of offense, not alot of defense, but this team is going back to the playoffs.

Atlantic Division

Detroit Red Wings
The move East helps this old roster earn their first divison crown as members of the East.

Boston Bruins
Still a physical and nasty group, the Bruins will contend for the division title but just miss out after playing lots of hockey over an 18-month span.

Ottawa Senators
Maybe the most fun team in the league to watch, but with a few of their top forwards prone to injury, the team lacks depth to contend for the top spot. Still a playoff team though.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Defensive issues and possession numbers don’t favor the Leafs as they aim for a second straight playoff berth. Adding Jonathan Bernier means there’s no easy night for opposing shooters.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Suspect defense and a lack of consistent goaltending spells trouble for the Bolts this season.

Buffalo Sabres
They’re not good and the most entertaining thing about this team will be the Ryan Miller/Thomas Vanek trade watch.

Florida Panthers
Still a young group trying to find their way. Adding Tim Thomas helps, but these guys are a long way away from contending for anything other than a lottery pick.

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks
Loaded at every position, the Blackhawks won’t run over everyone like they did last year but they’re still the class of the NHL.

St. Louis Blues
Great on defense and solid in goal, the Blues are one still one dynamic scorer away from challenging for the top spot in the Central. But man will it suck to play against these guys every night.

/laughs knowing the Sharks pounded the Blues early this year

Minnesota Wild
Still a year or two away from being a serious threat. But this team showed great strides last year and I expect that to continue this year.

Dallas Stars
They’d be higher on this list if I knew Kari Lehtonen wasn’t one play away from falling apart. Still a really good group of young forwards and veterans and a sneaky good defense.

Nashville Predators
They won’t run away with many games this year, but defense and goaltending will keep the Preds in most games this year. Plus, they have American Hero Seth Jones on the rosters, which is awesome.

Colorado Avalanche
A fast and skilled group of forwards makes the Avs a fun team to watch. A shaky defense and spotty goaltending do them in. But man will Patrick Roy be fun to watch as a coach.

Winnipeg Jets
They couldn’t win the worst division in hockey the last two years. That’s bad news as they transition to the West. Ondrej Pavelec is not a franchise goaltender. Why can’t Jets’ management understand this?

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Kings
They have the right mix of skill, toughness and great goaltending. They’ll be in the mix for the Stanley Cup again this year.

San Jose Sharks
It’s the last shot for this group to win. They’ll still roll out world-class talent at forward and have a very good goaltender in Antti Niemi. One serious injury to the forwards will doom the Sharks.

(This was my thought before their red-hot start. I never would have expected what has happened.

Anaheim Ducks
Lucky for you, Pierre Canard has you covered with an actual in-depth preview. Read it now.

Vancouver Canucks
They’re a tire fire waiting to happen, but they still possess some of the best talent in the world. They’re not elite anymore though. And the Sharks own them, which is great for everyone.

Phoenix Coyotes
Still stingy on defense and the score more than you think. I’d be shocked if they didn’t earn the West’s final wild card spot.

Edmonton Oilers
I still don’t trust this team on defense and in net. That’s bad news for a fan base that expects to win now.

Calgary Flames
Oof. Calgary needs to fail badly to try to lock up the top pick in next year’s draft. They’ll battle, but they’re very short on talent.

There ya go. I did not take anything that has happened so far into account for these brief previews. I’m sure everyone will agree with me though…

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m glad I don’t do this for a living. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, because if you like hockey, you’ll like following me.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #4 Boston Bruins

In Hockey on May 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm

As if the first two rounds of the playoffs weren’t awesome enough, now comes the matchup that everyone east of the Mississippi has been waiting for. Two teams that don’t like each other will meet with storylines dripping all over the series. I haven’t watched a whole lot of the Eastern Conference this playoff season, but you can bet I’ll be tuned into what should be a slugfest between the Penguins and Bruins.

After making the switch to Tomas Vokoun against the Islanders, the Penguins have been on cruise control, and it showed in a beating of the Senators in round two. Offense has been the story for the Penguins, especially on the power play where it looks like me playing NHL 13 against someone with no arms. The Pens have been lethal no matter who is on the ice, and for a sport that has been criticized as of late for a lack of offense, the Penguins have silenced those critics by lighting up the scoreboard. No question the talent offensively favors the Pens, with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Jarome Iginla, Kris Letang, etc. on board. My only knock is that Pittsburgh has played against some pretty miserable defensive teams on their way to hockey’s final four.

But don’t discount the work the Penguins’ defense did. They held a talented, yet depleted team in check in the win, and this team has been given a boost by Vokoun’s play in net. The Penguins trust the veteran netminder, and that stability in goal allowed everyone to do what they’re best at. Which is scoring a butt-load of goals.

But the Bruins should slow down the potent Penguins attack, with Crosby seeing a steady diet of Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Not that it matters, because Sid is at the top of his game and Malkin will have a chance to match up against the Bruins’ second line, which favors Geno.

After their first round scare with Toronto, the Bruins got their act together and throttled the New York Rangers, who had clearly given up on their coach. Yes, the Bruins defense was nasty in their five-game victory. But they were also up against a team with a major deficiency. In this case, that was the Rangers’ horrendous offense, which the B’s successfully shut down.

But what surprised me about the Bruins is that their offense finally came around. Milan Lucic rounded into the beast that the NHL should fear and the Bruins got a nice boost from young defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug, with Krug lighting up the Ranger for four goals from the point. Tyler Seguin finally got on the board against the Rangers, and that needs to continue because of how important he is to any success tied to the Bruins’ offense. Also, if the newly crowned “Merlot Line” of Shawn Thornton, Greg Campbell and Dan Paille continues to cause havoc, that only helps the B’s.

That offense is going to need to take some of the pressure off of Tuukka Rask, who has the unenviable task of facing the Penguins’ shooters all series. Boston can’t try to turn this into a track meet, because they’ll get burned. Expect lots of clogging the neutral zone from the B’s who do that as well as any team in the league.

Pittsburgh Will Win If…
The offense continues to be balanced. Chara and Dennis Seidenberg can’t play against both Sid and Geno. But the Penguins’ depth with Brandon Sutter, Brenden Morrow, Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke all capable of scoring on the third and fourth lines. If those lines can cause problems for the Bruins’ bottom defensive pairing and neutralize the Merlot Line and Chris Kelly’s line, Pittsburgh is going to cause the Bruins headaches.

Boston Will Win If…
They can stay out of the penalty box. Pittsburgh dines out on the power play, and for a team that plays as physical as the Bruins, that means that power plays are going to happen. You can get away with that against a PP unit as bad as the Rangers. Not here. Yes, Tuukka Rask is the most important player for the Bruins in shutting down the Penguins. But his mates are going to have to help him out a little bit by staying the hell away from the sin bin. More play at even strength improves the Bruins’ chances to win.

Prediction
This series should be a blast. With another series putting a lot of focus on Matt Cooke (for ending Marc Savard’s career), not to mention what these two teams did at the deadline involving Iginla and Jaromir Jagr was captivating. Now it gets to play itself out on the ice. Speaking of Jagr, will someone please look for him at any of New England’s finest casinos? The guy has been a non-factor thus far in the playoffs, but he should be jacked up for this series given the way he performed against Pittsburgh last year as a Flyer.

Pittsburgh is better on offense. Boston has the edge on D and in goal. Something has to give, and I’ll take the two-headed monster of Crosby and Malkin. Penguins in 6.

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m proud of myself for actually trying on an Eastern Conference preview. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, and we can make fun of the NBA playoffs in unison.